A children’s fable tells the story of an ant and a grasshopper during the balmy days of summer.
While the ant labours in the hot sun, gathering up grains from a nearby farmer’s field, the grasshopper sings and idles about ignoring the passage of time.
But it is the ant who has the final laugh, as the bitter austerity of winter humbles the grasshopper who had done nothing to provide for the lean months while the opportunity existed.
This is a call to all Peace Exchange readers to be ants, not grasshoppers when it comes to the plight of the countries of Africa’s Sahel – Niger, Chad, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, parts of Senegal, Northern Cameroon and Northern Nigeria – where at least 10 million are struggling to get sufficient food this year, chiefly due to drought.
“The emergency situation now unfolding, and expected to peak between March and August, is the latest in a series of recurring and deadly food shortages in the Sahel. It comes just two years after the region’s last severe food security and nutrition crisis in 2010.”
Nonetheless, the vigilant Niger Government, as Clark noted in her debriefing remarks, has been “quick to appreciate and react to the implications of last year’s rain shortfall and poor harvest.
“Alerted through its early warning system, the Government expressed concern as early as August last year, developed an emergency response plan, and directed some of its own resources to avert a worsening situation.”
And part of February’s OCHA-UNDP mission was to assist in meeting the immediate emergency needs of the people of Niger, while also addressing the underlying structural causes of food insecurity, so as to break the cycle of chronic drought in the region.
However, only around 10 per cent of the more than $400 million required for Niger has been raised so far, and more must flow in if the situation is not to get even worse.
“I think a stepped-up international response is really urgent now, stressed Clark.
“So, that’s a matter for governments, and it’s a matter for ordinary citizens in countries which care, to start looking at which of the charities you support are active in these countries, and look to give a little to many people to make a difference.”
This is a perfect opportunity to harness the network of support and multifaceted cooperation that lies at the heart of the Peace it Together network.
We can all – by sharing this post on our various social networks, by getting informed on the issue, by lobbying for aid where possible and, yes, by donating time or resources directly – “act now, act together” for the Sahel, as Clark puts it.
That’s all for this time, but we’ll be back with more good stuff very soon.
Until then, stay warm, have a great weekend and… see you in the next post!